“Chastity is the lily of virtues, and makes men almost equal to Angels. Everything is beautiful in accordance with its purity. Now the purity of man is chastity, which is called honesty, and the observance of it, honor and also integrity; and its contrary is called corruption; in short, it has this peculiar excellence above the other virtues, that it preserves both soul and body fair and unspotted.”
— Saint Francis de Sales
Hello there on this pre-March for Life day,
I hope this entry finds you well. This sure isn’t your average chastity talk. Listening to a highly personal convicting testimony by one of my favorite Christian musicians has sparked this awkward entry. I say awkward not because of the subject matter, rather I’m fearful of the reactions I may receive since my views aren’t in vogue. Over the past few months I’ve griped to my best friend about why a few guys online, especially on a particular Catholic dating site seem to be so sex-obsessed. Even though I am a bit hesitant, I will do my best to coherently formulate my thoughts. Before I take off into ramble mode, I want to make it clear that I am not at all advocating for shaming the human body or discouraging us to not discuss sexual topics in appropriate contexts.
Last May, Audrey Assad published a talk on iTunes she gave about pornography addiction.
While I cannot specifically relate to the struggles she faced, I understand the power and subduction of addiction. I understand the difficult struggle of despite not wanting to engaging in a negative habitual behavior while something compels you to do so. In tandem with the desire to stop the behavior is the overwhelming sense of isolation and guilt of feeding the compulsion. I can empathize because this is the sinister cycle of an active eating disorder. As I started listening to Audrey’s personal struggle with pornography and masturbation during her teen years, I began to wonder, how many other teens and women are now living in shame because they have fought this same battle alone? I felt convicted to write this entry because I was that person who was passing judgment on men, and here is a female artist I have grown to admire who is in recovery from an addiction. The devil sadly sure doesn’t differentiate among genders.
Often it’s socially acceptable for women and men to be objectified and dehumanize through porn or natural for masturbation because it is satisfying and relieves sexual stress for males, however, for females the story isn’t heard or told.
My beliefs regarding porn and masturbation are highly contrary to our overall society and what is taught in my profession as a social worker. While in undergrad, I often struggled with accepting the image my academic textbooks put forth about masturbation and porn. Both were portrayed as normal and age appropriate, especially for males. Let me attempt to clarify my points before I’m written off as some religious nut case.
Here are two important definitions before I continue from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
*“Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials.”
*Masturbation is defined as: masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. “Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action.” “The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.” For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of “the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved.”
As someone who has my own sorted sexual past and purity faults, I am not at all pointing fingers. Instead I am writing this in the spirit of love and if we differ on ideals, please, I urge you to entertain a different perspective. We are all beautiful creations who are loved by God no matter our pasts, futures or where we currently are in life. I wish our society appreciated our bodies’ for what they are: awesome creations by God with a unique soul and special purpose. Sex isn’t a recreational activity or viewing porn isn’t a passive activity with little harm. Masturbation, porn and sex outside of marriage all remove the essence of who we are as people, as beautiful creations. Our hearts and souls are stripped out of the equation and the physical body is left to be consumed and objectify for our own pleasures. Let’s go on a little tangent for a moment. Some are very uncomfortable with nursing a baby. I wonder if it’s because of how porn and media exploits women’s breasts. Even though they were designed to give life, to nourish a growing developing baby, society sees them as play things or objects solely for enjoyment. Masturbation detaches us from the purpose of sex—which is meant to be appreciated by a married couple rather than circumvented.
All of this comes down to lust and impurity. Lust is a sin and I’m just as guilty of it as my next fellow flawed sinner. However, it doesn’t mean it is okay. I do not want to exploit anyone in any way, especially intentionally lead a man to sin out of my own selfish desires. I pray for my future husband to keep his heart, mind and body pure, so why shouldn’t I also strive to do the same for him? I’ve tried to experience the world and its attractions and it left me empty handed and broken hearted, so my only other option is to give God my life and let Him live through me by His grace because on my own I’m a fumbling sinner who messes up time and time again. Now this girl has to go to Confession because I’ve got my own super-sized suitcase of sins to unpack, but this is the loveliness of the Catholic Church and the Sacraments. With a contrite heart, we are forgiven for our sins and through the Eucharist we can encounter Jesus. During this year of mercy, remember if you struggle with purity, you are not a chewed up piece of gum, a used sticky note or a broken flower. You are beautiful and loved just the way you are, and through lessons of detachment from what the world says is acceptable we grow closer to who we were created to be–saints. Let’s keep on striving day-by-day to do the best with what we have and where we are. As highly intellectual creatures we have a choice to engage in behaviors or not.
“During the Christian journey, the journey the Lord has invited us to undertake, there is no saint without a past and no sinner without a future.” PopeFrancis
|Saint Joseph, pray for us.|
Jesus, Lover of chastity, Mary, Mother most pure, and Saint Joseph, chaste guardian of the Virgin, to you I come at this hour, begging you to plead with God for me. I earnestly wish to be pure in thought, word and deed in imitation of your own holy purity.
Obtain for me, then, a deep sense of modesty which will be reflected in my external conduct. Protect my eyes, the windows of my soul, from anything that might dim the luster of a heart that must mirror only Christlike purity.
And when the “Bread of Angels becomes the Bread of me” in my heart at Holy Communion, seal it forever against the suggestions of sinful pleasures.
Heart of Jesus, Fount of all purity, have mercy on us.
If you struggle with pornography or anything mentioned in this post, check out these sites:
or this site
This song is a reminder that we always need God who is never far from us.
Until next time,